Looks like there's a new right-wing autocrat in town, but three's apparently not a crowd as far as Putin is concerned. Hungary's Viktor Orbán and Vladimir Putin seem to have both been working the same angle with their submissive boy Donnie Trump, whispering disparaging things in his ears about Ukraine and its new President Volodymyr Zelensky's fledgling administration. Zelensky was excitedly building a government based on anti-corruption, and eager to meet with Trump. After speaking in private with Orbán, though, at the White House — the first HOUR with NO note takers, mind you — Trump's willingness to meet with Zelensky waned. Hmmm.
According to The Washington Post, there's no evidence either Orbán or Putin specifically suggested Trump withhold military aid from Ukraine, or demand Zelensky investigate Biden's family and the 2016 election. They didn't have to, though. All you need say to a paranoid man is that a potential partner who needs something from you is untrustworthy. And that's all they did.
From The Washington Post:
But their disparaging depictions of Ukraine reinforced Trump’s perceptions of the country and fed a dysfunctional dynamic in which White House officials struggled to persuade Trump to support the fledgling government in Kyiv instead of exploiting it for political purposes, officials said.
U.S. officials emphasized that while Putin and Orban denigrated Ukraine, Trump’s decision to seek damaging material on Biden was more directly driven by Trump’s own impulses and Kyiv conspiracy theories promoted by his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Ashley Parker joined Nicolle Wallace to expand on the reporting:
Nicolle Wallace asks Frank Figliuzzi to go where no man should be asked to go — into Donald Trump's mind — to assess why Trump is so eager to follow these strong men, rather than consider the good of democracy and the country he's been "elected" to serve. Understandably, Figliuzzi doesn't want to go there, but he posits the theory that we all basically know is true. Trump is not a leader. He is a follower.
The problem is, he has fired everyone on his staff worth following.